Fun Size

The Fall season is here and is in full swing! Not only is autumn unquestionably the best season, but it is also home to my favorite holiday!

That’s right! The nasty summer heat has been traded for nice cool breezes and changing leaves. What is there not to love about October? Not to mention Halloween! The day you are actually allowed, and even encouraged, to dress up like a weirdo and throw candy in your face. I know many people make the argument that Halloween is a holiday more for kids and not a real holiday, but I call total crap on that. Honestly it has only gotten better as I have gotten older. Now I can go buy my own candy! Screw going door to door and working for it!

One thing that has always confused me, even as a kid going ‘trick or treating’, were the little bite size candies, or ‘fun’ size candies. Such as the little milky-ways or snickers. My little Hungarian brain was immediately insulted by such tiny candies. I came from a land were you made things in bulk! Don’t waste my time with your petite chocolate covered shavings! Where were the candy bars?

Of course I never made a big deal about it because, tiny or not, free candy is free candy. The thing that really confused me was that everyone else didn’t seem to share my frustration. Don’t get me wrong, it was an event when someone actually got a full sized candy bar. An event that we all celebrated by trying to steal it when the owner wasn’t looking, but other wise everyone was pretty contented with the size bars they did have.

This still confuses me even years later. If anything this strange contentment has even turned to celebration! I remember seeing in high school people even wearing ‘fun-size’ hoodies during that fall. What is this madness? “Why are we celebrating getting ripped off?” I thought.

“Maybe they are just settling. They knew that they will never get that full sized bar and they are just embracing circumstance.” I decided. Which was totally it, but it did make thing of something recently.

It reminded me of back when we were all kids on Halloween night. Getting dressed up in the costume you have been looking forward to wearing in public for the past four weeks. (Even though you had been wearing the costume just about every day at home up till that point, but this time your parents are letting you wear it outside! In front of the neighbors!) All the while salivating over the candy you will earn tonight with your friends. You knew what houses to hit and what ones to avoid. You had this down to a science.

Above it all, you were just flat out excited about it being the greatest day of the year, Halloween. Sure you wanted to make maximum profits in the candy department, but if anything you were just jazzed that you got to do, what you got to do. It was just the fact that you got to hang out with your friends late at night and eat a bunch of sugar, despite it’s pathetic size.

It was the little things that made it awesome.

I feel like we could learn something from our young selves here. As adults we feel we always have to be so concerned about the big picture, we often forget about all the little things around us at any moment. The people you and I interact with everyday.

For those of you who may not know, I am not a kick-ass rock star all around the clock. During the day I am a delivery driver for a deli, and like everyone else in the world who has to has to hold down a minimum – wage job to support themselves, I hate it. It is certainly not the worst job I have had, by far, but it is still a crappy minimum – wage job.

Because of this, I had to come to terms with something. That this is just my lot in life right now. This, hopefully, won’t always be my reality, but it is what I have to work with right now. So I made a decision. I will make the best of this situation as I can.

One of the goals that I have set for myself in life is to leave this world a little bit better. To help and inspire others through my art and my experiences. So, in relation with the deli, I asked myself, why wait till I am a rock-star to change lives? Why not start now, with what I have?

So everyday I try to bring my best attitude to my job and believe me, I am not saying this to brag. I have my bad days. Days I may, or may not, have told my manager he is an idiot, but that is besides the point. It’s not like I am a unique case. No one else wants willingly wants to work at some cruddy chain deli. So why not try to make our time there a little better by just being nice to each other, even in small ways?

When I went into work the other day, I found my direct supervisor slouched over a computer monitor. I said hi to her and she turned around. Her eyes were blood shot and baggy. I asked her if she was alright and she responded with a “not really”.

I asked what was wrong and she told me that her friend had gotten in a serious car wreck the prior night and was unresponsive in the hospital. My supervisor was at her bed side all night and wasn’t able to get any sleep.

I asked if there was anything I could do to help. She shook her head and responded “Just don’t fuck up today”. You know, that’s fair enough.

I was then sent out on my first delivery and a different manager requested that I went by the store afterwords to pick up some produce. My first thought was why didn’t we make a proper stock list the prior day, but that is besides the point.

After the delivery I went to the store as asked, and picked up the damn, super special, ‘organic’ avocados we use. On the way to the check out though, I spotted some dark chocolate on sale and thought of my supervisor. ‘Well, I mean chocolate always makes me feel better’ I thought and took a bar to check out.

When I got back to the store I took a piece of receipt paper and wrote her name it. Followed by that it was from her ‘favorite’ driver. Then placed the chocolate next to her register while she was away. Only to be immediately afterwords whisked away to prep for another delivery.

At this point I was on the other side of the store filling up an empty plastic gallon with iced tea (Because it doesn’t matter if it is getting cold, we are in the south damn it, and we need our cold tea!) and my mind was else where. All of a sudden I see my supervisor in the corner of my eye. I turned around to face her and saw tears in her eyes. I immediately expected something tragic, that maybe her friend had made a turn for the worst, but that wasn’t it at all. She thanked me and gave me a big bear hug. She said that, that chocolate was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for her.

I didn’t think it when I bought it, but this cheap chocolate that I just thought would be a nice surprise, ended up meaning the world to her.

Even I was shown a similar kindness this week, on a delivery no less!

This particular day had been a busy one to say the least, and one of the many tickets we had that day belong to a group of office employees who had all ordered individual sandwiches. This particular order fell into my charge to deliver. Normally I try to make a point to look through the delivery bag to double check the packers job, but in this case I had to just get rolling due to the delivery already being half an hour late.

You can see where this is going can’t ya?

I got to the delivery location and, thankfully, was able to find the suite number without to much problem. I enter the room and found a group of middle aged women sat around a large table setting, seemingly in a conference. I attempted to be desecrate so that I wouldn’t disturb them, but that went right out the window when one of them yelled “Lunch is here!”

About that discretion thing.

How these sort of individual deliveries typically work is that the individuals order is bagged with their name written on it. That bag is then placed inside a larger bag with the other orders for my carrying convince. So what ended up happening, was that I went through my delivery bag and call the name that I would see on the individual bags. When I called the name, the person would come up to claim their meal. All of them ended up being fine, except for the last two orders I ended up handing out. One was missing a desert and the other was completely crushed under the weight of all the other items in the bag.

Not only did this mean that I had to go back to the store to replace the missing or damaged items, but it also meant a refund. Which means after all the effort, no tip for me. I was trying not to get to distressed about it, but it was defiantly irritating to say the least. Thankfully the women were fairly understanding, and were willing to wait for me to return with new food.

After going back to a restaurant full of irritated people who were stressed over how late this order has been, I return back to the delivery location. I am exhausted by this point because I had been driving for nearly eight hours straight and had not had a thing to eat all day. I didn’t care about the money at this point. I just wanted to be done with the day.

I relocate the suite location and once again, try to discreetly enter, only to once again, to have to spot light shown on me. “He’s back!” The same woman shouted.

I forced a smile on my face and after handing out the replacement food and genuinely apologized for everything. Their delivery was over an hour late by this point after all. That’s not cool.

They told me it was fine and informed me that management had informed them of their refund. They then asked another question as I got my bags together. “Are you still being compensated for all of this?” I replied with a no, and informed them that because of the refund, I lose my tip as well.

Then the most amazing things happened.

The same woman replied “Well that’s not right!” and she dug through her purse and, before I could even say anything, stuffed a few bills in my hand. Then another woman did the same and another. Eventually there formed a line of people handing me cash. I didn’t know what to say.

I eventually gathered my wits about me and thanked them repeatedly. One replied “It’s not your fault things happen. You worked hared, you deserve the tip.”

All of this to say one thing. I know we all strive for big things in life, as we should, but the thing is though, sometimes we need regain perspective. I want to go change the world in my own way. I want to someday preform my music in front of tens, of thousands of people. I want to reach out to the people all over the world and give them hope. Someday I hope and pray I can, but it doesn’t start there.

First we need to start smaller. Be that giving your hurting co-worker some sympathy or tipping your delivery boy. Sometimes, the most important things, or even the things we need the most, come in bite-size packages. Packages that conveniently only have the grams of sugar per serving on the bag and not the candy.

(Photo credit: flickr.com)

Through the Fire and the Flames

What is fire?

According to dictionary.com it’s “A state, process, or instance of combustion in which fuel or other material is ignited and combined with oxygen, giving off light, heat, and flame.”

Well at least in a literal sense, sure. What about a more . . . metaphorical meaning. What does it mean to us?

Fire is something that is neither good nor evil. It has no agenda or alignment, and because of this it can mean many things. It can be a curse or even a gift.

Though often we may associate fire with negative things. I think the most common association with fire may be when it burns down a building. When it comes and takes everything away from you that you have ever possessed and worked on because someone didn’t put out their cigarette.

This of course is a terrible tragedy, but it is not fire’s fault. The fire did not intended to take everything away from you. Though it’s not even capable of thought, yet fire does so much. Not only to harm us, but to help us. To build us up.

For centuries fire has been a great tool for man. From lighting, to cooking, to keeping warm on a cold night, fire has been our friend. It is even safe to say without fire, there would be no mankind. Many times though, fire doesn’t always feel like such an ally.

Sometimes, fire can take the form of a challenge.

As my journey in the life of a musician has continued, my daily challenges and struggles have only increased. This is happening because I am pursuing something that is most defiantly not the norm, and because of that I am always meeting a lot of resistance. I have found whenever you are chasing after something worth doing, there will always be complications. Sometimes these complications come bearing at you like a freight train.

Any time we try to do something good and creative, or even something new, there never fails to be a difficulty standing in the path. I am not even referring to the things that you can see coming a million miles away. No, I am talking about the stuff that goes wrong at the very last second.

One example could be, if you are a just starting to make your own podcast over something you are incredibly passionate about. You are super jazzed about it and are ready to go! You boot up the program to record on your computer and are about to start talking into your brand new microphone, but you notice something. The little record light on the mike isn’t glowing even though it’s plugged in. After fiddling around,  you come to the realization that your new expensive piece of equipment is faulty and you need to get a replacement. Thus delaying your new project by that much longer.

Or if you are a mechanic and you have just assembled your next car. After months of work and research you finally stick the keys in the ignition to start her up. You may have even tried this five times before to no avail, but this time it has to work. You have after all, put so much work into it. You turn the key . . . and not a sound.

These are the flames from the fire, and they are something we all have to deal with at some point. Much like fire, these are things that you can’t always predict or control. Not to mention they will always be there. Something will always be something going wrong, no matter what you do or say.

So what do you do?

The hard cold truth of it is, there isn’t anything you can really do to prevent it. You will be hurt at some point, even devastated. Not everything you do will be a success and there probably will be many things that will go wrong on your next project. It is inevitable and you can’t prevent it no mater how hard you try.

What you can do though, is don’t let the fire defeat you.

Don’t let it get to you and bring you down. Believe it or not, these flames are not here to necessarily hurt you. Like fire, it is only natural and will always be there. What it is doing, however, is making you stronger.

When a blacksmith is working with a fresh piece of iron they first have to make it malleable and soft. To do so they have to place the metal into a burning hot furnace. Into the flames. Then pull it back out to shape the piece of earth, and then put it back in again to repeat the process. This is called forging and right now, we are in the iron in the flames.

We will be forged and once again put back into the fire to be forged more. It’s not the most comfortable process, but it is one that will allow us to withstand anything. Soon we will be shaped into something beautiful.

Until then, don’t let the flames get to you. Remember, they are only little flames, and they will only make you strong.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Little Green Monster

As I have been growing as an artist, so is my desire to be around others like me. Because of this I am always looking for local venues that I may be interested in frequenting in my area. Eventually I stumbled upon an open mike night at a bar and thought, why not?

It was a nice enough place. It defiantly had the ‘neighborhood bar’ feel to it. Between the loose floor boards and crusty old guys, I couldn’t help but to feel kinda at home. I took a seat at in a booth and was greeted by a lovely waitress, whom I had the pleasure to share a few words with, and ordered a good ol’ amurican burger.

This was all well and good, but I was more excited to experience some of the local talent. See what my city had to offer for it’s music. Eventually nine rolled around and the open mike had officially begun. First was the guy who was actually coordinating the event. He walked onto the throw carpet and took a seat on the dusty wooden stool. He was a skinny, older man. You could tell that though he had been doing this a while, he still just as excited to be doing this today as he as twenty years ago. After he plugged in and gave the acoustic a few strums, he proceeded to play a couple of songs he had written years ago. Just getting to see the joy on this old, weary, mans face as he sang his song, I couldn’t help but to share his excitement.

After he played a couple of songs to warm up the crowd, the crowd being myself and maybe seven others, he handed it off to a much younger guy. He appeared to be about my age and had a cool sort of confidence about him. I wasn’t expecting to much from this new guy, but I was quickly shown otherwise. He was fully aware of every second, of every beat, of his songs. His hands moved effortlessly across the fret board and struck every note with laser precision.

I was thoroughly impressed! Then that excitement faded into disappointment and then envy. I caught myself feeling this way and I wondered why. I should be excited to see a musician my age kicking so much ass! Showing these older guys that we can keep up with them! I couldn’t help it though. I fell into the same pit fall that I often do. Comparing myself to someone else, and not liking the results.

My ability with my guitar often feels like how I measure my self worth. This may be one of my biggest struggles on my personal journey as a musician. The gritty reason behind it is that, I want to be able to keep up and maybe even show up other musicians. It’s terrible and trust me, it’s not something that I always like about myself. So when I see someone else, seemingly in a similar circumstance, play so much better then myself, I feel like some sort of failure.

This of course is not true. Who knows how long this guy has been playing and how much he experience he has. Personally I have been playing on and off for about four years. That is just the thing though, ‘I have been playing on and off for about four years’. Until about three months ago I didn’t take this whole music thing nearly as seriously as I do now. Of course I don’t have the same sort of experience and expertise as this guy. As far as I know he has been playing since he was three and toured with Aerosmith twice!

I know all of this in my head, but it is still a massive struggle for me personally to not compare myself to others. I feel like this is true for all of us in many ways.

For example if you are a tech person, you are probably always looking into the latest gear and upgrades that you can financially manage. If you have the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the S6 just came out. . . If you are honest with yourself you don’t really need the fancy new curved screen that has a total of two useful features, but it’s cool looking! Besides if you don’t spring for it, you will be (dun, dun, duuuunnnn) behind!

Or you may be a carpenter and you just finished building your first boat. You put months of effort and planing into it, not to mention smashing your thumb twice with a hammer. It may be a little rough around the edges, but you are proud of it none-the-less. Once you launch your creation at your local lake though, you find that carpenter Jim also just finished his boat but it has sweet cup holders! Not to mention a built in fridge and a hot tub!

Point being we always want to have the edge or the latest greatest thing. When we don’t, the little green envy monster comes out to wreck your shit.

I nearly let the envy I feel for this one guy ruin my nice evening out. The evening that I looked forward to because I wanted to be among my fellow musicians! The truth behind it is that there will always be someone better then you. You can work on something day in and day out and there will still be someone better then you. Someone who would have done it twice as well with half the effort.

The thing is though, you can’t let it get to you. Envy is a terrible little thing that can so easily tear apart relationships and possible friendships faster then anything else can. We, need to remember that everyone starts somewhere. Everyone starts out not knowing how to use a toilet, or knowing how to walk, how to hold down a chord on a guitar, how to upload a video, how to start a blog, how to drive, how to build a computer, how to make a stitch when knitting.

It’s ok because we all start off stupid! Everyone had to learn from something or someone else. Typically the person who you feel envy towards, isn’t intending that reaction. They are also people who have worked hard at what they do and want to show that off. Nothing wrong with that.

What is important is to remember is that you also shouldn’t confine yourself to one thing either. We are all to complicated to do that. While it is true that I identify myself as a musician I am also a cook, a writer(ish), a brother, a friend, a son, a lover of video games, a lover of nature, and so much more. When we realize this, then the whole “he’s better then me at that one thing, the one time” doesn’t seem as dire.

If you love something then you should still strive to be the best you can be, but remember to cut yourself some slack. Everyone is always learning all the time, and there is no such thing as a ‘master’ of something. Even though it is tempting, don’t let envy take over either. Just because someone is better at something then you doesn’t mean that you can’t have a friendship with them. Chances are they are just as thrilled about the subject as you are and would love to discuss it!

The in the Meantime

Alright, so you have finally come to the point were you have a goal. A dream that you want to fulfill. This is a huge step! This is a point that many people don’t even get too. So take a second and embrace that.

The thing is about that first step, is that it is the ‘first’ step. The first step of many, many more to come. The steps that I am referring too are the steps that are between you first committing to your goal and then achieving that goal. The time in which you are working your ass off to reach your dream. I have begun referring to this time as the ‘in the meantime’. If you are in the ‘meantime’, you are in good company, because many people, including myself, are right there with you.

What is the ‘meantime’ exactly? Well it’s something different for everyone. At the root of it, it is you building yourself to become that ‘you’, you want to be.

If you wanted to be a doctor, it’s that time in med-school. When you know you want to help people and save lives, but you are still learning how to. Maybe you want to be a game designer. Working your way through school and you have to hold down a side job at the dollar general to pay the bills. You have a burning passion to be a ballerina, but you still can’t quite perfect your pirouette, but practice everyday at it.

If you are doing something worth doing, you will eventually experience the ‘in the meantime’.

I have a powerful desire to be a rock-star some day. The thought of being up on stage and just playing my heart out on an instrument excites me to no end! Every time I even strum my acoustic I get chills! Which is fantastic! I have made the first step, but, as I said earlier, that’s not where the buck stops. Now that I have my goal, I need to work to achieve it. That means hours of practice on scales and songs. Taking that time to build up my confidence on my instrument and making it something worth listening too. During which time I still need a place to live in, so holding down a job on the side is a must. Building a business, building up my music, and holding down a job that makes me want to stab my eyes out with a spork. That’s what the ‘meantime’ is about right? Working your ass off till you make it. Not entirely.

I recently attended on online class titled “Turn your pain into art” with Ariel from Icon for Hire. It was an interactive experience where I got too, along with about five others, learn from Ariel about doing just that, turning one’s pain into art. It was an incredible experience to be able to interact with this person that, I admire so much, over a subject that I am so passionate about in real time! After the session I was able to exchange a few emails with Ariel. During these interactions she gave me a much needed reality check.

In one of our exchanged email I described my struggles in my particular ‘in the meantime’ and asked for some advice on just how to it handle all. The stresses of loving music and people so much, and wanting so badly to be a full time artist. My struggle of trying to take every moment, of everyday, to progress this dream forward. In her reply she mentioned she knew exactly how I felt. That she was the exact same way. She had such a powerful passion for music that she just wanted to devote every minute of her life to making her dream a reality. She eventually realized that just because she was doing that, didn’t mean that anyone was going to care for what she was doing. Just because she worked day in and day out for it, didn’t mean anyone owed her a look or two.

She said that you first need to chill out, working yourself to death isn’t going to help anyone. Second it’s not that you shouldn’t work hard, anything worth achieving you need to work hard for, but you need to re-evaluate why you are doing what you are doing.

During the lesson she shared her experiences on tour and one of her interactions with another band off stage. This was Icon for Hire’s first year on tour so she introduced herself to one of the other bands. Being very polite, she introduced herself and mentioned how excited she was to be there. The band member stated he name and brushed her off. She was, understandably, kinda offended and mentioned the incident to a friend. The friend replied that he doesn’t really interact with anyone. When he’s not on stage, he mostly just sits in his tour bus and plays on his phone. Ariel felt that this was an example of a man, who, may have fought his way, tooth and nail, to get were he is. Now that he is there, he don’t know what to do with himself. He may have become so fixated on making it, he burned away all his passion and love for his music in the process and is now left as a shell.

She finished by saying, you need to do this thing because it makes you happy, because it feels good and right to do. Don’t do it so that label can notice you, or that you can get a big following. You may make it big, but you will find that the nice label and money will ring hallow when you don’t have your passion anymore. If you are doing what you love, you may never make it big, but at least you will be happy.

The ‘meantime’ is difficult and is often the time people stop perusing their passions because it gets so rough. Ultimately the ‘meantime’ is about balance I feel. It’s an amazing tool to have such a powerful motivator as passion or a love for something, but you need to make it work for you. Remember, don’t let it use you and let it run you into the ground.

If you are like me and are so desperate to achieve your dream, may also struggle with wanting to devote every bit of free time toward it to achieve it. Something that has starting helping me is trying to schedule some time to be away from it.

What I have started doing is I made a list on a white board that I refer to every morning, titled “Things to do to make today a success”. Pretty specific right? I write one to four things that I want to have done by that day, and I plan these things out at the beginning of the week. For example practicing guitar for and hour might be one, second thing might be to upload a video for the channel, another on is to record something. Then when I finish these list of things  for the day, I am done. I allow myself to relax because I have done what I set out to do for the day. I even sometimes make one of the things on the list to relax!

It’s an amazing thing to have discovered that passion and to chase after it. It’s like no feeling I have ever felt before!  Remember, though, your happiness is the most important thing. I know the feeling of just wanting to achieve your dream so bad that you can taste it, but the in the ‘in the meantime’ is a part of the journey. Embrace the ‘meantime’, it’s a chapter in your story, and its a very important part. Don’t wish it away because when you do eventually make it, it will be that much more worth it.

We will get there some day. It may not be in the way we think, but if we do what makes us happy who cares? Don’t worry so much about the future. Embrace the in the ‘meantime’, and live in the moment a bit more.